The Guide To Start A Startup In Krakow

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Co-author: Chris Kobylecki For startups Krakow has a lot to offer: not only because of its pool of IT people but also because of its welcoming community. Find out more to found in Poland!

Check out the infographic on How To Start Your Startup In Krakow!

In Krakow, the royal city, is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. You probably can hear English more than Polish in the city centre because of that. Krakow happens to be #9 city when it comes to outsourcing IT in the world. Few years ago something happened here – a few people had a dream now the startup scene is flourishing. The official symbol of  tech and startup community of Krakow is #OMGKRK.

Why Go To Krakow?

Advantages:

  • Access to people. Krakow has good Universities that can boost your team. Every 5th person in Krakow is a student. More than 5000 are graduating each year from IT related studies.
  • Krakow is becoming an IT city, it was named #9 when it comes to outsourcing IT in the world.
  • Poland is a big enough market to be the first or test market for your product.
  • Good connection to Warsaw and other European cities. It takes only 2.5 hour by train to get to Warsaw.

Disadvantages:

  • The Polish law is tricky you have to figure out a good way to hire people.
  • It takes some time. The Polish government is working on it but starting an LLC will take you around one week, to get everything up and running (you need to have aproximately 1250 Euro of initial capital plus 250 for regestration costs).
  • Plenty of US or European investors label Poland as an “eastern country” – with high risk and low business potential. Often moving your HQ to the US multiplies your success chances.

Discover Krakow’s Startup Community

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The hashtag #OMGKRK is the key to the Krakow community. Some time around 2013 we established this Hashtag for our community. If you want to find out what’s happening you have to check out the website, facebook page and most importantly our facebook group that has around 2k people involved. Twitter of course can be handy too.

When you look for local events the easiest way is to check out crossweb.pl. There you will find most of the events not only in Krakow – but it is our local events calendar. When you are looking for the communities around specific topics more than something in the near future than you should visit the omgkrk.com site with an omgkrk guide.

Top picks from our rich calendar would be:

  • KrakSpot – perfect barcamp for students and beginners. You will get inspired, will learn a lot and obviously it is a great networking opportunity as there are sometimes up to 400 people. The downside is that the event is usually in Polish.
  • Startup Stage  is an event for more experienced start-upers. The format is similar to KrakSpot so you will get 2-4 presentations and maybe some panel discussion but it is more focused on business issues. Unfortunately usually also in Polish.
  • Hive53 – finally something for English speaking startup lovers. Traditional barcamp around business topics with inspiring guests.
  • OpenCoffee – this is a very unique format of a meetup. On Thursday mornings, starting from 8:00 we have a one hour long unmeeting = no agenda, everybody can say something as long as it stays below 2 minutes: offers, questions, pitches, are very welcome. It’s smaller – from 10 to 50 people depending on the week but it is in English and plenty of foreigners come to OpenCoffee.

There a plenty of other meetups, barcamps etc., for a guide check out omgkrk.com, and for calendar crossweb.pl.

Conferences:

An important thing, especially if you plan only a trip to Krakow are conferences. Here are our top 3 recommendations:

  • Digital Dragons – the biggest games industry conference in CEE with more than 60 talks, 800+ participants, 50+ indie games in the showcase. It’s a B2B event with a lot of fun but at the same time a lot of business opportunieties and possibilities to network with all key players in Polish game dev.
  • ACE Conference – a fantastic event about creating fantastic stuff. Everything about Agile, Scrum, Lean, Design Thinking, Customer Development etc.
  • Mobile trends – conference connected to expo. You can meet all the crucial players from the mobile industry in Poland at the event , no matter if you look for hardware, software or m-commerce.

Park At A Co-working Space In Krakow

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There are currently three well known coworking spaces in Krakow.

Here is the list of the most popular coworking spaces in Krakow:

  • Number 1 goes to COLAB – a post industrial space adapted to fit right in for startups. It currently has around 60 people working on their ideas. The space itself is a startup, it growths every month!
  • Number 2 goes to Hub:Raum – A Deutsche Telecom Accelerator based here in Krakow. They have a lovely venue right in the center of Zabłocie (startup district).
  • Number 3 goes to Business Link Krakow – it’s a space which is part of a series of spaces in Poland, with a desk at one place you can access all of them.

If you are picky you can look for other coworkings or microoffices in Krakow Technology Park. The alternative would be looking for some small flat you could use as an office. For people that are on the edge of the startup world and are looking for some creative environment  Wytwórnia is definitely worth considering. This is an office/workshop/fablab for all kinds of artists, makers, and entrepreneurs.

The expected cost for a desk in Krakow is 350 pln (85 euro) per month, when talking about an office then 30 pln (7 euro) per sqm when you don’t look for anything superfancy.

Tank Your Finances In Krakow

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Everybody seeks for funding. Think twice if you really need to rely on external sources. If you are not able to bootstrap (finance your operations from revenue), count carefully how much money do you really need. No money is free! When you have everything thought through then start networking and looking for some money here:

Angel Investors:

  • Rafał Han – Business Angel, Founder of HanBright and Chance Academy, co-founder of ESTIMOTE, HAN Bright. The originator of innovative projects in the field of edutainment for example: Ciufcia.pl. Mentor in Hub:Raum accelerator.
  • Richard Lucas – Business Angel, mentor, coach and business consultant. Actively supports the Krakow startup community, co-organizer of TED events in Kraków and Poland. Member of the Committee of Global Entrepreneurship Week in Poland.
  • Andrzej Targosz – Business Angel, CEO of the Foundation for the Support of Education PROIDEA which organizes or co-organizes many interesting events in the IT area, including support of the Krakow stage, Start-up Weekend in Krakow and Bitspiration conference in Krakow.

Seed/Venture Capital:

  • Innovation Nest – dynamic fund pushing their companies globally with nice network in US, focusing mainly on B2B SaaS startups.
  • Satus – big group with almost 100 investments through all funds.
  • Way 7  – Seed fund that stands out with their expierience in games.
  • Speed Up Group – one of the most dynamic polish seed funds, defienietly “smart money”.
  • Krakow Technology Park and their Seed Fund (in Polish) – Government funding and incubator focused an all kinds of R&D in the seed stage.

Incubator/Accelerator & Seed Capital and Physical Space:

  • Hub:Raum (Deutsche Telekom) – hub:raum Kraków is a Centre for whole CEE region. They look for everything that may create synergy with capabilieties of huge telekoms. They have their own short acceleration program calle WARP, but work also with Intel and Cisco in the initiative Challenge Up.
  • AIP Krakow – initiative great for begginers, makes the start easier and for some time offered an investment up to 25k euros.
  • Technology Incubator at KTP – traditional incubator with support and some price preference for up to 3 years. You will not get so much help and support like in the accelerator but the environment for work and development is worth it.

Seek Further Advice In Krakow

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At this point Krakow has very raw (orthodox) startup community based on people of passion and openness. They are there ready to help you. But it’s not easy to find structural help for foreigners that want to establish a startup and seeks for advice. There is no one-stop-shop where some clerk will have a brochure ready for you. You will need to hustle, network, look for some useful contacts. But this is what is the best in OMGKRK. You need to sink in and then you will love it.

You don’t go to Krakow because it’s easy. You go there for talent, relatively low costs, and great quality.

Ready for Krakow?

 

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Co-author: Chris Kobylecki

Last updated: July 29th, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they contstantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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